Dont’a Hightower is a three-time Super Bowl champion and he has been a key cog in multiple New England Patriots defenses, but something isn’t quite right with the veteran linebacker.
It’s unclear if he’s injured or just rusty after opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns about safety amidst COVID-19, but Hightower looks to be in the toughest stretch of his career. After the 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Ryan Spagnoli of Pat’s Pulpit called Hightower one of the biggest losers on the Patriots’ roster.
Veteran Dont’a Hightower Slammed for Bad Week 3 Performance
You probably won’t find a player on the Patriots’ roster who is more respected than Hightower. Still, Spagnoli was blunt in his description of the veteran linebacker’s Week 3 struggles.
After opting out of the 2020 season, the Patriots’ front seven was believed to be much better heading into the season with their captain back in the middle of the defense. However, Hightower has struggled since returning from his year off and was even pulled out late in the game Sunday even with Ja’Whaun Bentley leaving for injury. Hightower missed two tackles and blew his assignment in coverage that led to Alvin Kamara’s walk-in touchdown early in the first quarter to put the Saints on the board. With the Patriots desperate for a run stuffer and leader in the heart of their defense, Hightower needs to improve in order for the defense to operate the way it’s expected to.
With the Patriots’ offensive line struggling mightily, the last thing the team can afford is blown coverages. That’s not the Hightower fans grew to adore over the past 5 years. Hightower is 31 years old and he’s been pretty durable throughout his NFL career.
He’s only missed four or more games four times in his 9-year NFL career. However, it does appear as though the mileage or the struggle to re-adjust to being an active player again could be wreaking havoc on him. In any case, Hightower and the rest of the defense will need to kick it into high gear in Week 4 when Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town.
The Patriots’ Remaining 2021 Schedule
New England Patriots (1-2) 2021 Regular Season Schedule
- Week 1 – Miami Dolphins 17, New England Patriots 16
- Week 2 – New England Patriots 25, New York Jets 6
- Week 3 – New Orleans Saints 28, New England Patriots 13
- Week 4 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 8:20 pm ET – NBC – October 3
- Week 5 – at Houston Texans at 1pm ET – CBS – October 10
- Week 6 – Dallas Cowboys at 4:25 pm ET – CBS – October 17
- Week 7 – New York Jets at 1pm ET – CBS – October 24
- Week 8 – at Los Angeles Chargers at 4:05 pm ET – CBS – October 31
- Week 9 – at Carolina Panthers at 1 pm ET – CBS – November 7
- Week 10 – Cleveland Browns at 1 pm ET – CBS – November 14
- Week 11 – at Atlanta Falcons at 8:20 pm ET – FOX/NFL Network/Amazon – November 18
- Week 12 – Tennessee Titans at 1 pm ET – CBS – November 28
- Week 13 – at Buffalo Bills at 8:15 pm ET – ESPN – December 6
- Week 14 – Bye Week
- Week 15 – at Indianapolis Colts Time TBA – December 18
- Week 16 – Jacksonville Jaguars at 1 pm ET – CBS – January 2
- Week 17 – at Miami Dolphins at 1 pm ET – CBS – January 9
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